Connolly Welcomes Competition From Returning Midfield Trio
Tuesday, 21st Nov 2017 16:00
Town loanee Callum Connolly welcomes the challenge on offer when midfielders Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop and Tom Adeyemi all return from injury.
Connolly, who can also play in a defensive position or as a wing-back, occupied a central midfield role in the home win over Preston and again at the weekend when he helped Mick McCarthy’s men to rescue a point thanks to Jordan Spence’s late equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Hull.
But he acknowledges that when Huws, Bishop and Adeyemi are all available for selection, which is probably not too far away, it is going to be that much harder to win a place in the starting line-up.
Huws and Bishop have been named in the squad for tomorrow night’s live-on-Sky clash with Sheffield Wednesday, while Adeyemi is targeting the visit of Nottingham Forest to Portman Road on Saturday week for his own comeback.
Connolly, 20, said: “I’m enjoying myself in midfield, although when I came here I didn’t really expect to be playing there.
“Having seen me in training, the gaffer has obviously decided that I can do a job for him in midfield and I’m happy.
“I see myself as a versatile player and I don’t have a problem with slotting in wherever I’m asked to play. I haven’t scored a goal yet but I can feel I have a goal in me so hopefully it won’t be long.
“When I came here there was a lot of competition for places, not just in central midfield but everywhere else and that can only be healthy from a team point of view, even if it makes it more difficult for everyone to be a regular choice.
“We’re in the middle of a busy spell right now with five games in 15 days. But I came here to play for Ipswich in the Championship and that means coming up against some very good teams, many of them looking to step up to the Premier League.
“I want to test myself against the best players and I relish every minute of first team football. That’s the best way I know of enjoying myself as a player.”
Town are currently one point outside the coveted top six and could, depending on results elsewhere, climb into the play-off places with a victory over a Wednesday side who are just one point worse off and are undefeated in their last four games – two wins, two draws and only three goals conceded.
Connolly added: “Our only aim at the moment is to win games and put points on the board. We’re not looking too far ahead and definitely not to the end of the season.
“We just want to take the games in our stride. From what I’ve seen so far this season there is no reason for us to fear anyone. It’s the same old story at this level and it’s not too unusual if a team near the bottom beats one near the top.”
The Everton youngster is an ideal squad member with his ability to play in a variety of roles.
“Over the years I’ve played in a lot of different positions and I wouldn’t say I’ve got one nailed down yet,” he admitted.
“I’m happy to be playing in the team and don’t mind where it is. It could be that I’ll become a midfield player – I’m not really sure at the minute because I’m just taking each game as it comes – but I really don’t mind if it’s elsewhere.”
The one thing guaranteed to disappoint Connolly is to be out of action, either through injury or because manager McCarthy prefers a different option, something that happened in the games prior to him being brought into midfield to face Preston earlier this month.
He said: “I’m not going to deny it was frustrating because I’m just the same as everyone else.
“I want to play but when I wasn’t in the side I knew the only thing I could do was to keep working hard in training and hope that the chance came along sooner rather than later.
“I didn’t let it affect me, I just kept my head down and put in the effort in training. I had a word with myself, saying ‘This can’t go on’ but I didn’t go to the gaffer because we speak every day anyway and he assured me that if I kept showing the same level of commitment my chance would come along. Now I’m in the team my task is to stay there.
“I wasn’t thinking of going back to Goodison – my only thought was to show the right attitude in training and be professional.
“There’s been a change of manager at Everton and you could say I am interested in what’s going on there. But because I’m on loan at Ipswich my only focus is to do well here.
“I’m not really focused on Everton right now. When I go back there it will be a different story but at the minute I’m an Ipswich Town player.”
Connolly reflected on Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Hull and added: “In the end I think it was a fair result. At half-time I was thinking we could go on to win it but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I thought we started the game well and Didzy [David McGoldrick] scored a good goal to put us ahead. But we conceded a sloppy goal to let them back into it and there were spells later in the game where we were on top and then they were on top. In the end I thought it was a fair result.”
The loanee was a member of the England squad that carried off the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea during the summer when he played in the first two games against Argentina and Guinea and was an unused substitute in the final as Venezuela were beaten 1-0.
He recalled: “That was a great experience. We were away a long time but to come home with a World Cup winner’s medal, you can’t say no to that, can you? We’ve set the standard now, winning the World Cup, and the U17s did the same, so it can only be very promising for England going forward.
“Hopefully we can go on to achieve even more in the future. It suggests there could be better times ahead and it would be nice for a number of us to carry on progressing and be rewarded.”
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